Love him or hate him, Takashi Miike is here to stay. Miike has been at the helm of many controversial films, and has a penchant for seeing just how far he can take his subject matter without going completely over the edge. But just because he regularly pushes the boundaries of censorship, doesn’t mean he isn’t producing masterful, diverse films in several genres. He’s written and directed everything from hard-core horror, to pedestrian crime drama. His style conjures images of sexually perverse Yakuza bosses, sociopathic little girls, and over the top gore that you’re not entirely sure how to react to: Do you laugh? Or do you question what you’re even watching?
He is also the creator of the only scene in a horror film that ever made me flinch, and wince in agony. But we will get to that.
Miike started out doing straight to video releases. Over the years, though, he has became a big name. He gained popularity in America with our first film on the list:
1. Ichi The Killer
Ichi The Killer was developed from the Manga of the same name. The film is chock-full of over the top violence, to the point of absolute absurdity. It’s almost impossible to even take it seriously. The film is still banned in Norway, and has been banned in numerous other countries since it’s initial release. There are quite a few cuts of this movie floating around the world. Some are uncut, and some are so mangled that Miike himself might not even recognize the film. If you are new to Miike, this is a great place to start.
Audition is almost the antithesis of Ichi The Killer. Audition is a slow burn type of film, and while the violence and gore is extreme-it takes a much more sinister and serious tone. The star of the film? Definitely the sound effects. Even when the camera cuts away from the gore, you know what’s happening. Although, Audition might as well be a tour of Disneyworld compared to:
Well….here we are. The film that made me wince, flinch and cower like a scared kid. That’s right: I was 6 feet, 1 inches , 200lbs of scared little girl when it got to the torture scene of this movie. We get to full-on depravity mode pretty quick with this one. Originally filmed for the Showtime network’s “Master of Horror” series, Imprint goes by it’s namesake. Once you see it, it’s imprinted on your mind forever.
Showtime refused to air this episode of the series, due to it’s distubing tone and graphic images. Miike thought he was “well within the boundaries of Showtime’s Tv series” and was honestly shocked when it got released to DVD only. Even Mick Garris thought it was too extreme for the show.
4. Visitor Q
Just about everyone has the same reaction when the credits roll on this one…
“WHAT DID I JUST WATCH?????”
I think Miike honestly made this film, just to see what kind of depravity and gore he could get away with and still mage to call his creation a “film”. Technically, it’s a black comedy..in the blackest sense of blackened darkness wrapped in a blanket of dark darkness one could only imagine. This one is definitely not for everyone.
If there was ever a film that is completely out of character when it comes to it’s director, it’s this one. “Box” is brilliantly shot with wide camera angles, and saturated colors that represent the mood of the scene. It is almost melancholic in it’s story telling, and almost beautiful to look at. There is a sadness about the entire story, and you feel like you are looking in on someone’s dreams…or nightmares. It is surreal and gorgeous. It honestly makes me wonder what Miike could do, if he tried to make more films in this tone. It is by far my favorite work of his, and one of my favorite pieces of film period.
Filmed for the anthology “Three…Extremes”, “Box” is the final act. It stands apart not only in Miike’s catalog, but in the anthology it was created for as well.